Riche Benaud died yesterday of skin cancer. His contributions to cricket were immense, starting with his superb leg spin bowling and aggressive lower batting but most importantly as one of the shrewdest captains in the game and the architect of many victories under whose leadership Australia did not lose a test series. Well-deserved tributes to him are pouring in from all over. Daniel Brettig gives us an overview of his life and here is video summary..
After his playing days ended, he enjoyed a long career as a cricket commentator and in this area too he excelled. He had a calm, clipped, clear, distinctive voice that one immediately recognized. He used words sparingly but judiciously to give the listener a great deal of insight into what was happening without overwhelming us with irrelevancies. He was deeply knowledgeable about cricket, impartial, and upheld the spirit of the game. His harsh criticism of the Australian captain for the infamous underarm bowling by Australia in their game against New Zealand was all the more devastating because of the calm way he said it. In the clip below, you can see what the event was about. Benaud’s analysis of the event and his judgment can be heard beginning at the 6:00 minute mark.
If anyone deserved the title of the voice of cricket, it was he.
In listening to the recent World Cup commentary, I frequently found myself irritated at the mindless blathering of the current crop of commentators and wished that Benaud were there instead. Alas, we shall not hear his voice anymore.